Thursday, May 04, 2006

Time to End the Embargo Against Cuba.

September 2, 2011 at 12:44 P.M. "Errors" inserted since my previous review of this essay will now be corrected. I believe that Cuban-American political groups ostensibly controlled by Cuban-American politicians are responsible for these crimes of censorship and suppression of speech.
November 9, 2009 11:05 A.M. "Errors" inserted and corrected, once again. ("Roberto Unger's Revolutionary Legal Theory.")
Continuing defacements of these writings disgrace the Constitution of the United States of America and American Law. An advertisement was imposed, illegally, on this blog:
"WESTERN UNION. Send money to Cuba today with Western Union. Find out how here. "
People who vandalize these writings find it comical or entertaining that there are many persons in poor countries to whom one might send money or other assistance, even if one is living very modestly in this country, the United States of America. The suffering and deprivations of poor persons "amuses" many Cuban-Americans who see themselves as "affluent." I do not share this view. I do not agree with the destruction of written works. Furthermore, I believe that persons disdainful of the poor are the opposite of "affluent." Greedy and smug individuals are very impoverished, indeed, regardless of how much money they have.
PBS will broadcast a documentary on January 31, 2005 at 9:00 P.M. on "Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution." Beyond that date, the DVD of the program will be available for purchase. A new film dealing with the Cuban revolution, as background, to a family romance and history, entitled "The Lost City," (directed by and starring Andy Garcia) is scheduled to open on April 28, 2006. See it.
An excellent film by the great Cuban diretor, Humberto Solas (no accents on this keyboard), is "Cecilia." The DVD I have seen is dated Havana (2004). This may be an export version. The original movie (1982) is based on the great Cuban novel, Cecilia Valdes.
I was born in Havana, Cuba in September of 1959, in the same year that the revolution which captured the imagination of the world achieved its final success. In my mind, I see a black and white newsreel begin to unwind. A young Fidel Castro sits on a jeep and rides through the streets of the lovely old city; white doves flutter about him; he is smiling, as are the others on the tank. It was a moment of great optimism, coinciding with the election of President John F. Kennedy in the U.S., when so much seemed possible, finally, for Latin America and the world as well as for Cuba. ("R.D. Laing and the Nature of Evil" and "Fidel Castro's 'History Will Absolve Me.'")
As I write, the legacy of the Cuban revolution and of the sixties' decade for the world is still unclear and undetermined. This is not a cause for alarm or dismay, but an opportunity. We must believe that everything is still possible. For some reason, it has suddenly become very noisy in the room where I write.
My father was an opponent of the regime who was executed by a firing squad in 1963, after summary legal proceedings. My mother was unable to leave the country when my sister and I were shipped off to the United States with relatives. The enormity of my mother's sacrifice and the emotional cost of that sacrifice for her -- after the loss of the only man she ever loved, a loss from which she never fully recovered -- has only become clear to me with the passage of the years, as I have come to endure similar pain and losses in my own life. My mother is now in her mid-eighties, but still recalls the date and exact time of my father's death. After discussions of the issue, my mother agrees that the embargo should be ended, as it is causing so much suffering to new generations of Cubans and Americans.
Thousands of other parents were separated from children, who also were sent off to the United States to escape the much dreaded "Communism" associated with the revolution during the height of the Cold War. Although I was reunited with my mother months after our initial separation, she was never the same person after that final great loss of her life, the loss of her language and culture.
For most of the intervening years, I have felt a great hostility toward Fidel Castro personally and towards his revolution. I have expressed this hostility publicly, in published letters and articles appearing in periodicals, in print and on-line. There have been any number of allegations, often confirmed, of brutal human rights abuses under the Communist regime. I have no regrets about speaking out against such human rights abuses, which I will never excuse or condone, wherever they may occur and no matter who is responsible for them. I have also never regretted my American citizenship and feelings of identification with the founding principles of the United States, which are simply the right political ideas as far as I am concerned.
I have indulged for decades in hatred of everything associated with the Cuban revolution, which came to represent the very embodiment of totalitarian evil that I associate with what Susan Sontag has called, the "militarization of culture" -- something which I experienced at first hand, as a child -- and which included the deliberate effort to supplant the family in a child's affections with loyalty to the State. Such a thing, wherever it may occur -- and, sadly, it occurs in parts of the U.S. -- is despicable. Family members must never be asked to spy on and/or inform against one another, especially not secretly. Are you getting this in New Jersey? How's Terry Tuchin doing in "white man's country"? ("What is it like to be tortured?" and "Terry Tuchin, Diana Lisa Riccioli, and New Jersey's Agency of Torture.")
With the experience of loss and suffering in my own life, however, some important lessons have been reinforced for me: hatred is always evil and never a productive or helpful emotion in human relations or politics. The devastation and deformation of my own emotional life, resulting partly from events that took place prior to my birth or shortly afterwards -- and much aggravated by terrible things that have happened since! -- must be matched by similar suffering on the part of persons whose families were on the opposite side in this conflict, this bloody civil war, whose many wounds are still fresh and unhealed. ("Fidel Castro's 'History Will Absolve Me.'")
There must be someone like me, sitting in Cuba right now, coping with very similar pain -- and living a far more materially disadvantaged life -- as a result of the same tortured history. I have learned that forms of social injustice and oppression exist in every human society to a sufficient degree that a tone of smug or judgmental superiority in criticizing the policies of others is never an appropriate or justified attitude by us. There is more than enough for each of us to worry about when it comes to respect for human rights in our own societies that it is not necessary, except in the rarest cases, to go out of our way to find fault with others. ("Driving While Black [DWB] in New Jersey" and "America's Holocaust.")
Having said that, it is certainly true that great evils call out for condemnation and remedial action by all of us, wherever they occur and whoever is responsible for them. We must be guided by our own consciences concerning when to speak out. We must be willing to accept the consequences when we do.
I have also learned that societies tend to define or understand human rights in convenient ways. Eating regularly and well, along with opportunities to develop one's intellectual capacities and to receive adequate care when sick may also be seen as human rights. We must all understand that freedom means not only rights to unfettered expression, which become meaningful only when persons have received the education and development to allow for the most intelligent expression of their opinions, but also access to the "enabling conditions" that make freedom meaningful, like adequate food, education and health care. Rather than criticisms -- which are sometimes unavoidable -- in the vast majority of cases, mutual cooperation and encouragement among States in correcting faults may be more helpful. ("Havana Nights and C.I.A. Tapes" and "'Che': A Movie Review.")
November 9, 2009 at 10:46 A.M. a word was deleted from this essay by Cuabanazos. I have now restored that word to the text.
It always bears repeating that hatred produces only more hatred and hostility in response from those who are the objects of hatred. I am sure that much of the harassment that I experience is intended to produce hatred or violence that may be used to justify further harassment. Hatred never improves the lives of people, nor does it help in the process of healing and restoring hope to ordinary persons seeking to improve the quality of their children's lives. Hatred is like cancer, it ends by devouring the host organism. Hatred will never help in feeding a hungry child, nor in caring for the sick and dying, which is what we all should seek to do in life, let alone in politics. The struggle against hatred is difficult and life-long.
I am sorry to say that there are quite a few people in the Cuban-American community -- especially among some anti-Castro groups in the United States and their paid-for politicians -- who have been consumed by the hatred which they feel. A very few have made an industry of hatred, turning opposition to the Cuban regime into a lucrative way of life and a form of political power. ("Havana Nights and C.I.A. Tapes" and "Cubanazos Pose a Threat to National Security.")
Anyone who targets innocent civilians for bombing attacks, regardless of the nationality of those civilians or the cause that he or she espouses -- this includes anti-Castro groups in the U.S. or elsewhere -- can only be considered a TERRORIST and should be treated accordingly by the authorities. The United States simply cannot be associated with such tactics as it wages a struggle against international terrorism. ("American Hypocrisy and Luis Posada Carriles.")
I suppose that I have all of the necessary credentials for hatred, but I have chosen to do the opposite: to find ways in which to transcend any feelings of hostility (as opposed to justified anger), so as to find more constructive emotions of compassion and concern for human suffering, leading to an effort to discover practical ways to make things better, if only by arguing publicly for necessary improvements in relations between the U.S. and Cuba. My inspiration is found in the lives of great humanistic figures such as Robert Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Jose Marti, and many others.
It is time to review American foreign policy with regard to Cuba, which has more to do with American domestic politics -- namely, electoral votes in Florida and New Jersey -- than with the legitimate geopolitical concerns of the United States. The Cuban embargo, which prohibits economic investments by Americans and visits to the island by U.S. tourists, is based on an archaic piece of Cold War foreign policy doctrine. In the absence of a Soviet Union or of a Superpower "chess game" on the international arena, it makes little sense to keep a law on the books that has the effect of hurting American farmers and businesses -- including the pharmaceutical industry -- that might supply food and other products at a cheaper rate than competitors, thus benefitting consumers in Cuba as much as themselves, and all Americans. These corporations would pay increased taxes on higher earnings, presumably, after allowing for any incentives in future laws to encourage such investments. Profits by American firms means more jobs for Americans. We need those jobs today.
I believe that part of the reason why this issue is not more prominent is that most of the beneficiaries of the jobs that would be created are rural and working class Americans, mostly whites, but also brown-skinned farm workers and African-Americans. These "normal" Americans do not usually enjoy the services of expensive lobbyists. Senator Edwards was (and is) one of the very few politicians speaking out for these people. These ordinary Americans need JOBS today, especially the kind of long-term, private sector jobs that would be created with an end to the embargo.
Both the embargo and Helms-Burton Act hurt Americans and ordinary Cuban citizens. They do nothing to hasten the demise of the revolution, but the opposite is true: such laws provide a convenient focus for Cuban nationalism, strengthening support for the revolution, while depriving Cuban children and old people of such dangerous items as aspirins and antibiotics. People might eat better food and lead healthier lives, besides leading materially more comfortable lives, both in the United States and in Cuba, without these laws. They should be repealed immediately. As for the fate of the revolution, that is something only for the Cuban people to decide, through appropriate democratic means to be determined by them.
The normal relationship that should exist between the two countries is one of cooperation and mutual respect. One area where such cooperation might be beneficial to all concerned is in terms of the distribution of Cuban cultural productions (if you have not seen Buena Vista Social Club, Strawberry and Chocolate, or Memories of Underdevelopment, then go out and rent them today!), another is in the area of biomedical research aimed at curing congenital diseases -- cures that would benefit all of humanity. There must be many other areas in which cooperation is sure to be mutually beneficial. For instance, agricultural technology which is undergoing a transformation in the U.S., might be shared -- since it can only help to feed more people with fewer resources.
The values of the two nations are more similar than people realize. From the eighteenth century when Cuban women sold their jewelry in order to raise what were vast sums for the time to donate to George Washington's colonial army (that desperately needed the help, by the way), to the birth of the Cuban nation in the joint struggle against a collapsing Spanish empire at the end of the nineteenth century, the United States and Cuba have historically shared many interests and concerns, especially in the development of humanitarian values. Eventually, that natural relationship will be restored anyway -- if only by the momentum of mutual rational self-interest. The longer it takes for this to happen, the more innocent and ordinary people will suffer. They will suffer by being deprived of food and medical supplies that might be made available from the U.S., at a profit, thereby easing the pain and saving the lives of many who pose no risk whatsoever to the national security of the United States. Dan Griswold of the Cato Institute writes of the embargo:
"Cuban families are not the only victims of the embargo. Many of the dollars Cubans could earn from U.S. tourists would come back to the United States to buy American products, especially farm goods. The American farm bureau estimates that Cuba could 'eventually become a $1 billion agricultural-export market for products of U.S. farmers and ranchers.' [Today the figure is closer to $2 Billion] The embargo stifles another $250 million in potential annual exports of fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and tractors. According to a study by ... the U.S. International Trade Comission, the embargo costs American firms between $684 million and $1.2 billion per year."
Michael Janofsky, in "As Cuba Plans Offshore Wells, Some Want U.S. to Follow Suit," The New York Times, May 9, 2006, at p. A1 states:
"Cuba has negotiated lease agreements with China and other energy-hungry countries to extract resources for themselves and for Cuba. [From oil deposits in Cuba's territorial waters.]"
"Charles T. Drevna, executive vice president of the national Petrochemical Refiners Association, said of Cuba's collaboration with China and India. 'We have chosen to lock up our resources and stand by to be spectators while these two come in and benefit from things right in our own backyard.' ..."
It may come as a shock to this gentleman that people do not think of their countries as being in someone else's "backyard." Finally,
"The United States Geological Survey estimates that the energy field on Cuba's side alone may have 4.6 billion barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas." (Another 2 BILLION dollars per year?)
The amount that might be generated by Cuban cultural and sports productions is impossible to estimate. It is likely that in time the numbers would rival other earnings areas, such as energy, tourism, agriculture and may even exceed them. One professional league and stadium in Havana for baseball and other sporting events with television contracts would generate in excess of $1 billion per year for the Cuban and American economies.
It would enhance the security of both Cuba and the U.S. for the two countries to cooperate in obtaining this energy, since the American technology for doing so is better, more efficient and cost-effective, giving an equal advantage to America and Cuba in their economic missions on the world stage, benefitting the populations of both countries.
To permit avoidable suffering to take place -- in both countries -- so as to indulge in hatred for a single individual is not only stupid, but evil. Leave it to history to judge political leaders, whose choices and responsibilities I do not envy. The recent trading of insults between the two countries over their alleged "respective" human rights abuses is also the opposite of what diplomats call, "a productive dialogue." How about a competition to see which country in the world is responsible for the least human rights violations? I am "for" that. ("Is Senator Bob 'For' Human Rights?")
No one should hesitate to speak out against human rights abuses and all forms of terrorism anywhere. If our concern is really to protect dissidents, however, then the easing of tensions will make it less likely that criticisms of the Cuban government will be seen as potential threats, resulting in far better conditions for those dissidents who express them. I am a tortured dissident. My writings are censored and suppressed, every day, right here in America. This may be a good time to insert another "error" in my writings. ("Psychological Torture in the American Legal System" and "How Censorship Works in America" then "Terry Tuchin, Diana Lisa Riccioli, and New Jersey's Agency of Torture.")
People who feel a need to express opinions are not going to be intimidated by anyone from doing so. If the expression of those opinions or creative efforts can become something which is beneficial to a society, then it is more likely to occur in an unimpeded manner. Right-wing Cuban-American groups are probably more intolerant of dissent and vastly more likely to favor censorship than the Cuban government today. ("Babalu and Free Speech Too.")
I am a firm believer in President Richard M. Nixon's policy of "quiet diplomacy," so that private conversations between leaders and discrete expressions of concern, I believe, can often accomplish far more in terms of releasing or easing the lives of "prisoners of conscience," than all of the public grandstanding or condemnations of another nation's policies and actions by individuals in foreign countries. I have no doubt that a vocation to speak "truth to power" anywhere -- including the U.S. -- is a dangerous one. Yet there are times when personal dangers must be accepted, if one is to remain human, even if this is only for a few final moments. I will not be intimidated or silenced in my own quest for justice. ("Does Senator Menendez Have Mafia Friends?" and "Is Senator Menendez a Suspect in Mafia-Political Murder in New Jersey?")
After more than forty years, children and adults -- who were not born when the revolution took place -- continue to be hurt by the festering hatreds and inherited wounds that are one legacy of that revolutionary struggle for many of those who, admittedly, lost a great deal because of it. As a Christian and humanitarian, whose opinions were often dismissed (as mine are today) as "naive idealism," I believe that my father would have overcome his personal feelings of anger or resentment a long time ago. I am sure that he would forgive his enemies and seek, as I do, to alleviate the suffering of many ordinary people in both countries, so as to improve the world that we leave to our children -- regardless of the ideologies, slogans, or political faiths that may be developed in the future by partisans of one faction or the other. It is time for a new chapter in U.S. relations with Cuba.
I say this being well aware that persons at both ends of the political spectrum, for very different reasons, will oppose any effort at reconciliation or peace between the United States and Cuba. Ironically, it is only a few persons of Cuban ancestry living in the United States -- not the Cubans themselves -- who are likely to create the greatest obstacles to what we all know is the right thing to do, which is simply to make the lasting peace that should exist between these two countries, finally, a reality.
It would be a stroke of political genius for President George W. Bush to be remembered as both a strong leader against international terrorism, and also a peace-maker and healer of old wounds in the new world. As a foreign policy achievement, it would be comparable to President Nixon's "opening" to China. President Bush might thus solidify his support among Latinos in the U.S., including many younger Cuban-Americans who also long for peace, but who may be intimidated by some of their more militant elders into refraining from expressing publicly that longing for a new era of mutual understanding and cooperation. Someone has to be willing to say this publicly.
President Obama's efforts to open a new era in relations with Cuba is about bringing BILLIONS of dollars both to Cuba and the U.S., while the opposition to improved relations comes from hostile and entrenched, also racist segments of the Cuban-American "upper middle class" (mostly) that is doing very nicely by opposing Fidel Castro. ("Senator Bob Says -- Xanadu and You Are Perfect Together!" and "Senator Bob, the Babe, and the Big Bucks.")
You decide whether these politicians from Miami and New Jersey will create the kind of government you wish to see in Cuba or anywhere. You may expect more sabotage of these blogs and further attacks against my computer in the days and weeks ahead. No images can be posted any longer at my sites. My books and writings are suppressed in America. MSN groups is closed and, soon, Yahoo will also close -- at least, for me. The partnership between the mafia and Fascist Cuban-American groups is thriving. No wonder my struggle is relegated to American media silence. Maybe Cuban media will be freer to cover this sad episode in Cuban-American fascism and corruption.
The time for violence and intimidation, if it ever existed, has long passed. Let us begin a new era of mutual cooperation and understanding, using the "political clout" that is often associated with the Cuban-American community for peace and not for greater hostility, to ease and not to increase human suffering, without concern for the ideologies of those persons whose suffering might be eased and with whom peaceful relations may be possible. Those of us who are still angry and hurt by our childhood experiences in Cuba need to come to terms with our history, understanding the ways in which others also are hurt, so as to support a renewed effort at reconciliation with our brothers and sisters still living on the island.
In his "Inaugural Address" of 1861, Abraham Lincoln -- an important symbol of reconciliation and healing, at a time when a divisive and tragic struggle characterized the life of the U.S. and who is, perhaps, our greatest president -- spoke of his trust in the people's need for peace: "Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?"

There is no better hope. President Lincoln certainly retained this hope, even after the bloody struggle that ensued. It is that hope "in the ultimate justice of the people" which suggests to many of us that the embargo should be lifted, so that peace and full cooperation may be restored between the two nations.



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